WILD ONION

POEMS BY ROBERT WALLACE PAOLINELLI

DEDICATION TO MY DEAR FRIEND, ROSS DEBOSKEY, M.D.

Wild Onions If karmas could be redeemed by the quantity of wild onions I pulled up today, I would be the the most perfect of humans. Barrow load after barrow load I hauled off to the dumping ground under the redwood trees. Now I am having some doubts:-- What would happen if (by some quirk of botanical transmorgrification) the wild onions would combine with the genes of the redwood trees? While pulling up the pungent bulbs I thought about my ancestors and about dying and birth and of the connection we all have to ancestors and death. the parabola of life from birth to death arcs. And,life as we know it,ceases. But is that all? As I pulled up more onions I thought about conception and transformation. My question to myself was: Does conception begin before sperm and ovum? Yes. It begins from before the beginning. And all we souls now manifest in the flesh were waiting our turn to be born. It is now we who are waiting to die, as all the wild onion desiccating under the redwood trees.

POPE POET THE FIRST Sometimes I wish I were Pope so I could set my bulls in motion and bring centuries of misdirections back into line to the truths of the true church and reunite the believers into the fold of love, goodness, peace, plenty and mindfulness of the joyful mysteries of the universe, and the readmission of clouds, water, wood, air, metal and earth as blessings, and reblend them into the doctrine of the great wondrousness of the Infinite, Unknowable Cause of the Arising of All Beings and Matter. That would be the subject of my first bull ex cathedra.

HARMLESS I don't want to be afraid of anyone, and I don't want any one to be afraid of me. I don't want to be frightened or threatened by anyone and I don't want to frighten or threaten anyone, either. I'm no fool, however, not a sheep waiting to be lead to the slaughter, nor a naive waif waiting for the jack boot while dreamily chanting peace and love. I only want to be harmless and I want others to be equally as harmless. We don't have to be a society of suspicions, afraid of some, leery of others; or cautious about where we live or go and at what hour. We gauge our lives by the relative degree of safety of a place. We do this to be spared the indignity of assaults and threats to our person--even to our lives. We carry this fear as we walk about our own city.

Sometimes I feel like a hunted animal as I walk through certain parts of town. A human being should not have to feel that way. Our ancestors, no doubt, had to live in close proximity to giant beasts; so their wariness is understandable. But why must I dart my eyes, or look behind me or become extra alert if a stranger approaches? Yet my fears are not unfounded, nor are the fears of the many and the moans of the victims or the pain and the lamentations at the funerals of the innocent victims of urban violence, hate, psychosis, crime and indifferent bullets. Harmless: I want the world to be harmless so I can walk the streets at all hours and not regret I don't have a .38 in a shoulder holster for ready use. Why must any of us live such a life?

Harmlessness: If anyone has a better answer for making the world a better place other than by being harmless--let me know right away. Wild Onions Two Yesterday I pulled wild onions and then I wrote a poem. I smelled like wild onions all day; it was not an unpleasant smell. I even tasted one; not a bad taste. I took piles and piles of wild onions to the dump site. Pulling up those pungent bulbs was a lesson in natural philosophy and anatomy, for at the end of the day my back hurt and a certain muscle twitched and ached more than the others. I looked up muscles in an anatomy text and found the Latin name for the hurting muscle. However, I renamed it. I call it: Onion Pulling Muscle. The pain of which caused me to reflect on the weakness of the body and how delicate is the balance of things mysterious and wondrous. After I put the anatomy text away, I sat with a pillow at my back and, the discomfort notwithstanding, wrote a poem about wild onions. The Mouse and Mrs. Whitney A

Very Short Story Mrs. Whitney hadn't the heart to set the trap to kill the mouse her employer had seen scampering across the kitchen floor. Mrs. Whitney was not afraid of the mouse, nor did she hold any particular grudge against the small gray thing. Mrs. Whitney was temperamentally unfit to set a trap to kill a mouse. But her employer expected it of her. So what Mrs. Whitney did was bait the trap, but first she soaked the bait in strong vinegar and then she put the trap in a place no mouse would ever go. And when asked by her employer if the trap was baited and set, Mrs. Whitney could tell her employer (in good conscience) that "Yes, the trap was baited and set.

FIRE SONG The burning log is singing. I hear it distinctly; it is a high-pitched hiss/whistle with slight variations. It is sizzling sap forced out of the wood by the heat. That is the science of the audio phenomenon. But I hear true singing: A one note tune, hissing and whistling through the ligneous, proto-instrument. The sap is burned out, and all that is left are the ashes of the music of bubbling sap.

TIRED FIRE The fire burned itself out. For the longest time it roared and shot up flame and sent out a hot, dry heat. Gradually it settled into soft, sensuous tongues of flame slowly consuming itself until There was only the glow of coals and charred stubs of unburnt wood. The memory of the fire sleeps in its ashes bed, and I am off to my own bed.

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MILL VALLEY, CALIFORNIA
MAY 1995